Aidan was a 34 year old painter and decorator who developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) following surgery to repair his Achilles Tendon, which had been torn as a result of an accident at work.
He was unable to work and a month after the accident, his income was reduced to Statutory Sick Pay.
Like many people, after seeing an advert on the television, he made the mistake of instructing a large national accident claim firm to represent him. His employers quickly admitted liability for the accident and his representatives decided to instruct an orthopaedic surgeon to prepare a medical report. However, they did not instruct the consultant direct, instead taking the easier option of using a medical agency to do this on their behalf – a classic sign of ‘processing a claim’ rather than ‘representing a client’.
In his report, the orthopaedic surgeon detailed the injury and Aidan’s subsequent surgery. He touched upon the ongoing symptoms of CRPS, but concluded that “I can find no orthopaedic reason why he should have the problems he complains of“. His solicitors interpreted this conclusion as meaning that his ongoing symptoms were unrelated to his accident at work. Accordingly, despite the fact that he was still unable to work, they advised him to settle his claim on the basis that he had made a full recovery!
Understandably unhappy with the advice he had received, Aidan approached BLB Solicitors, specialists in chronic pain, for a second opinion. We agreed to take over conduct of his claim.
When we received his papers it was immediately clear that the person conducting his claim had no understanding of CRPS. In fact, the note of their review of the orthopaedic report included the rather telling phrase “apparently suffering from something called complex regional pain syndrome. Unlikely linked to accident.” Further, they had not even bothered to obtain and review his medical records, simply requesting that the medical agency obtain them and forward them direct to the orthopaedic surgeon. Without reviewing the records, it is impossible to determine the most appropriate medical expert(s) or to prepare a detailed letter of instruction to the expert(s).
Once we had obtained a full set of records, we referred Aidan to a nationally respected consultant in pain medicine, who concluded that there was a causal link between his CRPS and his accident at work. He recommended an intense course of multidisciplinary treatment. This involves simultaneous input from several disciplines and may include rheumatologists, specialists in pain medicine, psychologists, specialist nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. We obtained funding from his employer’s insurance company for an intense 4 week inpatient course of treatment and rehabilitation at a national centre of excellence, the Bath Centre for Pain Services (BCPS) at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath (RNHRD).
Whilst not curative of his condition, as a result of this course of treatment, Aidan was far better able to function on a day to day basis. It was clear that he was never going to be capable of returning to work as a painter and decorator. However, with his pain and related symptoms now under better control, he was keen to get back into employment. We instructed a specialist employment consultant to help and guide him and within a few months, Aidan found a job as a goods vehicle dispatcher with a national distribution company. His earnings were a little less than when he was working as a painter and decorator, but we included this annual earnings shortfall in his claim, along with the predicted cost of future care, equipment and treatment.
We arranged a meeting with the insurance company and their solicitors and settlement of Aidan’s claim was agreed at £234,000.